Why Interactivity and Engagement are important in Marketing?

This section features all the articles that my friends and I have written and we hope to share with you. Unlike other sections, this is a deliberate attempt to formalize our writings.
All articles listed here have undergone professional proof-reading.

Studies have shown that an average human makes more than 90% of their decisions based on emotions and the remaining 10% based on rationality. The 90% of emotions-based decisions are classified according to different categories; those who make rash decisions due to constraining circumstances, passionate decisions due to brand loyalty or bias decisions due to hear-say from others.

However, these varied ranges of understanding in emotion-based decision making process can hardly be understood if there is no or minimal interaction and engagement between the business and their customers.

Interactivity and engagement are two key methods which bring successful experiential marketing closer to the consumers. It also serves as method that brings out the emotional aspect of the consumers, and allows them to share what they think. Without interactivity and engagement, marketers find it hard to understand their target audience.

Marketers need to create interactive platforms or avenues where customers can share what they have learned or bought. On these platforms they can also share their joys and sorrows, no matter what the reason. Without a proper channel for consumers to share and interact, they feel lonely and left out, at least pertaining to their interest or disinterest in the products they bought.

Social media has successfully identified the needs discussed above and has innovated platforms where consumers may not only interact in a one-off situation but in a multi-dimensional setting. Through social media consumers all over the world contribute their thoughts on a simple and user-friendly platform. Social media has changed the way consumers interact and has also changed the way businesses market their products.

Facebook has a tool which allows web surfers to safely and privately socialize with their friends on websites through Facebook Connect- an idea which was seemingly alienated in the past. It is fun, interactive, engaging and meaningful.

However, marketers do sometimes feel apathy towards personalized interactivity as this mode of interaction tends to follow the obligated and regulated pre-determined process. They simply follow the ‘flow’ with rules and procedures. Marketers are beginning to find that punching  keyboard buttons and aligning the textbox in Adobe Photoshop are simply mundane duties that fulfill their core roles and responsibilities. Anything out of the box found according to the “Job Description” has become an added burden to marketers. Hence, “thinking big” may not be appealing to many marketers.

Nonetheless, humans make decision through a very highly complex system, where emotions often create the first impression mapping before any touch points. The impression of interaction between the customers and the business representatives foster the right image of the brand even before product evaluation. Placing personalized interactions out of the whole marketing picture could possibly cast doubts on the evaluation of customers’ emotions and also on the sustainability of the marketing plan. Hence if marketers just simply follow what they are told to do and choose not to interact and engage with their customers, then perhaps they miss out the chance of further unraveling the complex system of human beings in the decision making process.

Even if marketers do create interactive marketing efforts, one must know the key feature of emotions. Emotions are unsustainable in nature and consumers swing in their evaluations whenever there is a change in certain conditions. For example, consumers favor a certain chicken burger and they are willing to recommend it to their friends. But, after viewing a horrific video of employees unduly handling those chicken burgers without proper hygiene, these consumers may swing in their emotions and rightfully choose to reject their WOMM (Word-of-Mouth Marketing). Online interactivity may heighten this drastic swing as information is rapidly being transmitted throughout the World Wide Web on social media platforms.

Interaction marketing may be one aspect of marketing but consumers like to also take ownership of the product and the whole buying process. Consequently, marketers engage their customers towards ownership.

What is engagement in marketing context? In a lay-person’s terms, it simply means to get the other person involved in the buying process. Similar to how marriages and engagements work, when two parties decide to get involved and be together, marketing engagement gets the consumer involved in the businesses dealing.

Experiential marketing, another term for engagement marketing, would literally mean getting the consumers involved in the whole process of business dealing to the point where consumers feel and recognize ‘ownership’ of the whole buying process. It ranges from pre-purchase analysis on the customers’ part to post-sale service on the business’ end. Even marketing collaterals, which are often planned and designed by the expert teams of marketers, may be relatively influenced by consumers who participate and engage in the products.

Consumers may not perform obvious actions to show their engagement in a product, but by associating themselves with the brand and speaking favorably about it, they have already engaged themselves with the brand. For example, Warner Bros had a MySpace page dedicated to the film “300”. There were approximately 200,000 friends who watched the trailer and these people talked about the film even before the show was screened in cinemas.

By interacting with their consumers and engaging them in the whole marketing process, customers are given a sense of ownership and control of their purchase. Products may be customized to the needs and wants of consumers through timely interaction and understanding between both parties. Companies need to think of various ways to gain a comparative advantage over their competitors by building and sustaining personalized interaction. These interactions should be made as vibrant and engaging as possible.

Communication and Engagement are important in marketing because the world has entered into an age where consumers are ready to share their new buys with others as compared to before. This change in lifestyle has also prompted a change in the way marketers interact and connect to consumers.

Google was previously on the fringes of social networking and left the field of social networking to sites like Facebook and Twitter. However, as lifestyles change, consumers are increasingly loving and indulging social networking. Google made a determined advance and decided to go onboard with online social networking platform. This change is a clear sign of how electronic interaction converges with online social networking services.

Social media may be rising and promising in the future. But every business has its turning point. For instance, Kodak phased out their camera business and turned to consumer printing. Desktops are being replaced by laptops both in homes and offices, Smartphones are increasingly being demanded by consumers, even in third world countries.

The surprising element to all these changes is that every innovation was considered a breakthrough in its prime. Today, we hardly think they are efficient enough for our complex society. In the coming future, will we view our current breakthroughs such as social media, more efficient than the breakthroughs of the future? Will we witness social media being phased out just like how we see the old-film camera being phased out totally? I do not know.

But we do learn from history that interaction and engagement in marketing are two of the basic fundamentals of successful marketing. Even as lifestyle changes, these basic fundamentals remain true and valid through all ages, as consumers like to interact with those who know the products itself. With the help of this interaction consumers like to obtain ownership in an engaging manner.

(1,220 words)

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